Scientology spotlight: Danny Masterson, Tom Cruise and Leah Remini illuminate Hollywood church drama
Danny Masterson’s recent rape trial and convictions shined a new light on Scientology, the somewhat secretive religion favored by a few of the biggest and brightest stars in Tinseltown.
Developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the ultimate goal of Scientology is “true spiritual enlightenment and freedom for the individual” through the realization of spiritual salvation and brotherhood with the universe, per the organization.
Masterson and his actress wife, Bijou Phillips, belong to the church, in addition to his actor brother, Christopher Masterson and half-siblings, Alanna Masterson and Jordan Masterson.
Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Jenna Elfman and the late Kirstie Alley have been staunch allies of the controversial religion through the years.
No other church members aside from Danny Masterson were implicated or charged with criminal conduct in connection with the victims’ rape allegations.
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The church of Scientology was highlighted in the rape retrial of Danny Masterson, and that inclusion was slammed by the organization after the actor was found guilty Wednesday.
Masterson, 47, was found guilty on two counts of forcible rape. The jury was hung on a third charge. A jury of seven men and five women deliberated for eight days before reaching the verdicts.
The former “That 70s Show” star was accused of drugging the victims’ drinks in order to rape them.
The accusers claimed they were hesitant to file charges due to the church’s alleged strict protocols against public involvement with member issues; all three women were members at the time.
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“The church taught his victims, ‘Rape isn’t rape, you caused this, and above all, you are never allowed to go to law enforcement,’” Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told the jury during the trial. “In Scientology, the defendant is a celebrity, and he is untouchable.”
However, the Church of Scientology criticized the involvement of the organization in the trial by the prosecution, saying testimony and descriptions regarding the church’s “beliefs” and “practices” were false.
“The prosecution’s introduction of religion into this trial was an unprecedented violation of the First Amendment and affects the due process rights of every American,” the Church of Scientology told Fox News Digital in a statement. “The Church was not a party to this case and religion did not belong in this proceeding as Supreme Court precedent has maintained for centuries.”
“The District Attorney unconscionably centered his prosecution on the defendant’s religion and fabrications about the Church to introduce prejudice and inflame bigotry,” the statement continued. “The DA elicited testimony and descriptions of Scientology beliefs and practices which were uniformly FALSE.”
The church denied discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct to law enforcement, saying, “Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land. All allegations to the contrary are totally FALSE. There is not a scintilla of evidence supporting the scandalous allegations that the Church harassed the accusers. Every single instance of supposed harassment by the Church is FALSE, and has been debunked.”
Leah Remini, a former Scientologist and the organization’s most outspoken defector, called the women who survived Masterson’s alleged attacks “heroes.”
Remini has often discussed Tom Cruise as the top of the Scientology chain. The “Top Gun” actor became a member of the church in 1986 through his first wife, Mimi Rogers. In 1992, he publicly disclosed his affiliation with the religion.
Cruise married his second wife, Nicole Kidman, in 1990 just months after meeting on set of “Days of Thunder.” She reportedly took Scientology classes while they were together, but has never spoken about her relationship with the church or Tom.
The couple adopted two children, Isabelle and Connor, while they were married. When they divorced in 2001, the kids chose to continue practicing the religion. In a 2018 interview with Australia’s WHO magazine, Kidman, who was raised Catholic, said she loves her kids “unconditionally.”
“They are adults. They are able to make their own decisions. They have made choices to be Scientologists and, as a mother, it’s my job to love them,” she explained. “And I am an example of that tolerance and that’s what I believe — that no matter what your child does, the child has love and the child has to know there is available love, and I’m open here.”
“I think that’s so important because if that is taken away from a child, to sever that in any child, in any relationship, in any family — I believe it’s wrong. So that’s our job as a parent, to always offer unconditional love.”
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Kidman’s exit paved the way for Tom’s next wife to enter stage right: Katie Holmes. The former “Dawson’s Creek” actress married Cruise in 2006 after welcoming a daughter together named Suri.
Six years later, Holmes filed for divorce from Cruise, and also sought sole custody of their little girl.
A joint statement released at the time alluded to conflict between their belief systems. “We are committed to working together as parents to accomplish what is in our daughter Suri’s best interests. We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each others’ commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other’s roles as parents,” the statement said.
Remini claimed that the religion played a part in the demise of their relationship.
“Scientology considers Katie a suppressive person which is an enemy,” she told the New York Post in 2020. “I knew Katie when she was in [Scientology] and she seemed very indoctrinated into Tom’s world, but as time went on, I understood why she did what she did to protect her daughter.”
Remini, who left the church in 2013, has since hosted a documentary series about Scientology, which earned her two Emmy awards for outstanding nonfiction series or special.
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She penned a memoir about her time within the church and discusses the religion on her podcast with fellow church whistleblower, Mike Rinder, titled, “Scientology: Fair Game.”
The organization has consistently denied Remini’s claims, and in a statement posted on their site, said she “knows the truth she conveniently rewrites in her revisionist history.”
The group added, “She needs to move on with her life instead of pathetically exploiting her former religion, her former friends and other celebrities for money and attention to appear relevant again.”
Kirstie Alley flourished in the lifestyle Scientology provided her after she joined the group in the ’70s.
The “Cheers” actress, who died on Dec. 8 at the age of 71 after a short battle with colon cancer, remained a Scientologist throughout her life and was dedicated to her religion, which she credited with helping her overcome a cocaine addiction.
KIRSTIE ALLEY REMEMBERED BY CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY AS ‘BELOVED MEMBER’ AND ‘CHAMPION FOR DRUG REHABILIATION’
“Kirstie Alley was a beloved member of our Church, a champion for drug rehabilitation and a passionate advocate for human rights,” the church said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
“Kirstie was known the world over for her generosity, charisma and irresistible sense of humor. She will be deeply missed and long remembered by the countless many whose lives she changed. Our hearts are with her family.”
Alley credited the church with helping her stay clean and wrote about her battle with addiction in her 2012 memoir, “The Art of Men.”
“Now on to demonstrating how L. Ron Hubbard influenced my life directly,” she wrote. “He taught me that I could change. He taught me that other people could change. He taught me humanity and responsibility.”
She continued, “When I began doing Scientology, I was a drugged-out mess. I understood hell—depression, anxiety, addiction, failure, and loss. Well, at least, I understood that I’d experienced a fair quantity of each. Through the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard I gained a different point of view of these age-old problems. Depression, anxiety, loss, addiction, sadness, hate, self-loathing are not new subjects.”
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The “Drop Dead Gorgeous” star was also reportedly ranked at one of the highest levels in the organization, according to an interview she gave to the church publication “Freewinds” in 2018.
Jenna Elfman, who has practiced Scientology teachings for decades, once said debates over the religion were simply lacking any substance.
“The controversy is boring,” the “Fear the Walking Dead” actress told Us Weekly in 2020.
“It’s nothing to me. I know what I know, and how much it helps me.”
The “Dharma & Greg” star credited Scientology as the secret behind her 28-year marriage with actor Bodhi Elfman.
She told People magazine in 2018, “Well, I’ve been a Scientologist for 28 years and that’s a huge part of what helps us keep our communication going and our relationship.”
“We’ve never cheated on each other, we’ve never broken up. We hang in there.”
Elfman added of the religious practice, “I use it every single day of my life and it keeps me energized and vivacious and happy.”
Fox News Digital’s Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News